Talking to Kids is Crucial

Language Development Milestones

As a parent with a child who has language developmental delays, I believe this should be shared with every parent before they leave the hospital with their child. This survey is available from the American-Speech-Hearing Association.

Birth to 3 Months

Reacts to loud sounds YES NO
Calms down or smiles when spoken to YES NO
Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying YES NO
When feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound YES NO
Coos and makes pleasure sounds YES NO
Has a special way of crying for different needs YES NO
Smiles when he or she sees you YES NO

4 to 6 Months

Follows sounds with his or her eyes YES NO
Responds to changes in the tone of your voice YES NO
Notices toys that make sounds YES NO
Pays attention to music YES NO
Babbles in a speech-like way and uses many different sounds, including sounds that begin with p, b, and m YES NO
Laughs YES NO
Babbles when excited or unhappy YES NO
Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing
with you YES NO

7 Months to 1 Year

Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake YES NO
Turns and looks in the direction of sounds YES NO
Listens when spoken to YES NO
Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice” YES NO
Responds to requests (“Come here” or “Want more?”) YES NO
Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”) YES NO
Babbles to get and keep attention YES NO
Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms YES NO
Imitates different speech sounds YES NO
Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday YES NO

1 to 2 Years

Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked YES NO
Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”) YES NO
Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes YES NO
Points to pictures, when named, in books YES NO
Acquires new words on a regular basis YES NO
Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”) YES NO
Puts two words together (“More cookie” or “No juice”) YES NO
Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words YES NO

2 to 3 Years

Has a word for almost everything YES NO
Uses two- or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things YES NO
Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds YES NO
Speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends YES NO
Names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them YES NO

3 to 4 Years

Hears you when you call from another room YES NO
Hears the television or radio at the same sound level as other
family members YES NO
Answers simple “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions YES NO
Talks about activities at daycare, preschool, or friends’ homes YES NO
Uses sentences with four or more words YES NO
Speaks easily without having to repeat syllables or words YES NO

Helpful Info if You Have Any Concerns

What research is being conducted on developmental speech and language problems?

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) sponsors a broad range of research to better understand the development of speech and language disorders, improve diagnostic capabilities, and fine-tune more effective treatments. An ongoing area of study is the search for better ways to diagnose and differentiate among the various types of speech delay. A large study following approximately 4,000 children is gathering data as the children grow to establish reliable signs and symptoms for specific speech disorders, which can then be used to develop accurate diagnostic tests. Additional genetic studies are looking for matches between different genetic variations and specific speech deficits.

Researchers sponsored by the NIDCD have discovered one genetic variant, in particular, that is linked to SLI, a disorder that delays children’s use of words and slows their mastery of language skills throughout their school years. The finding is the first to tie the presence of a distinct genetic mutation to any kind of inherited language impairment. Further research is exploring the role this genetic variant may also play in dyslexia, autism, and speech-sound disorders.

A long-term study looking at how deafness impacts the brain is exploring how the brain “rewires” itself to accommodate deafness. So far, the research has shown that adults who are deaf react faster and more accurately than hearing adults when they observe objects in motion. This ongoing research continues to explore the concept of “brain plasticity”—the ways in which the brain is influenced by health conditions or life experiences—and how it can be used to develop learning strategies that encourage healthy language and speech development in early childhood.

A recent workshop convened by the NIDCD drew together a group of experts to explore issues related to a subgroup of children with autism spectrum disorders who do not have functional verbal language by the age of 5. Because these children are so different from one another, with no set of defining characteristics or patterns of cognitive strengths or weaknesses, development of standard assessment tests or effective treatments has been difficult. The workshop featured a series of presentations to familiarize participants with the challenges facing these children and helped them to identify a number of research gaps and opportunities that could be addressed in future research studies.

Where can I get more information?
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste. Please see the list of organizations at

Why is This Important To Literacy Learning?

Oral language is one of the first key steps to literacy learning. When a child has normal speech and language development, and naturally understands language, they are able to use and manipulate speech and language. Hearing and producing rhymes comes easy. They are able to manipulate sounds in words to make new words (if you change the /m/ in mat to /b/ you make bat). Literacy learning will come somewhat naturally.

When a child suffers from a developmental delay in speech and language they are unable to produce, hear, and manipulate sounds. Hearing and producing rhymes are difficult tasks. They don’t use complete sentences, therefore understanding stories being read to them may also be a challenge.

What You Can Do to Help Your Child

* Do lots of rhyming activities with your child
Rhyming Games/PBS Kids

Rhyming Activities

Rhyming Activities

* Read to your child and talk about what you’re reading. It is crucial that you include talking while reading. Discuss the illustrations. Make predictions about what is going to happen next. Let your child make connections with the text.

*Read Aloud

Read Aloud Tip

* With children 3 & up , write with your child everyday. In the beginning stages they will draw pictures. You can help the write the words.


Encouraging Young Children to Write

Parenting Squad

I hope this gives you some insight to language development and literacy. Happy Reading with your child! Remember to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday today!!


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I've been teaching Title I Reading in a rural Missouri school for the past 8 years. I'm looking to find other teachers with a passion for literacy. I want to share thoughts, ideas, and current research on literacy trends and issues. I look forward to learning with/from you all!!!

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